Africa trips

Mozambique 2003 - Harold Churchill

Overlanding Trips

Wednesday. I wake early and listen carefully. Everything is deathly quiet. I get up and go outside. The sea is like glass and there is only a whisper of a breeze. The horizon glows and few torn clouds scud across the sky chased by a jet stream high above.
It was going to be a great day. Suddenly whoops and howls erupt from chalet 9 and 10 and within seconds there is frantic activity to get fishing tackle, diving gear and the boats ready.
Shortly after sunrise the first boat puts to sea closely followed by the second and Clive and I are on the beach fishing.

The resort of Paindane lies at the top of high dunes beneath lofty coconut trees. There is a steep road angling down to the beach which had been hardened using coconut husks and in places wooden slats set horizontally across to form a corduroy grid. So taking a boat up and down is not a problem. Set slightly back from the beach is a large thatched Gazebo that once must have been well equipped with bar facilities and everything else. However the beach at Paindane is being eroded away and according to the local staff it used to be 50 meters further out at high tide than what it currently is. The Gazebo teetered on the edge and already most of the front veranda area had been lost to the sea.
At high tide the sea is perilously close to the base of the dunes and there was concern that the bottom end of the access roads could be washed away. They were tying to bolster the road edge with logs set into the sand.

From the shoreline a reef juts out into the sea and curves round to form a sheltered bay ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Although rod and line are permitted in the bay inside the reef no spear fishing or boat fishing is allowed. This only applies to visitors – the locals (blacks) can do as they please. The reef, exposed at high tide, and especially so with spring tides, is stripped clean of all marine life. The ski boats all launch within the bay then go around to fish on the seaward side of the reef.

This lack of a beach at high tide made launching a boat, or the removal of a boat, very difficult as there is not much room for a vehicle to move in, besides the beach slope was steep and the sand was soft and thick. A dangerous place for a vehicle to be at high tide.

By mid morning it was bright and hot, almost if the sun, annoyed at having been blocked out for four days, was now beaming down UV rays at full force. I decided to go back to the Chalet and re-hydrate myself with an ice cold ‘Mac Mahon’, a Mozambique brand beer.

Libby suggested I try my cell phone to see if there was an SMS from our daughter in England. There was an SMS and I was horrified to read a message from Clive’s brother-in-law saying that Clive’s brother had died. Not the kind of news that one wants to convey to someone on holiday. It was not altogether unexpected as his brother had been very ill, none-the-less chilling news. The message went on to say, “Funeral on Saturday. See you tomorrow evening.” Tomorrow been Thursday. We had known that his brother-in-law was flying in the next day as he was negotiating to have a house built on a piece of land he had acquired between Guinjata Bay and Paindane.

By late afternoon Struan, and his Landover, returned from Maputo.
Clive and Struan (father & son) agonised over the decision of what to do. To return home would mean that they would have to leave either mid Thursday, or very early Friday to travel the 1174 kilometres back to Greytown. Struan felt he could not abandon his friends. Meanwhile a number of other SMS’s were received from family begging Clive to come home. The matter was further complicated by the fact that Clive’s wife was in England and she could not get back.

Now let me tell you about what had happened to Struan and his fancy green Landrover TD5.
For starters the technician from Maputo only arrived at three in the afternoon and not at mid-day as promised. After working on the Landover for a few hours they could not get it started so they loaded the Landover onto the truck they came in, and together with Struan, drove through the night back to Maputo. At their workshops the next morning they managed to get things sorted out and the Landover started. Next problem was the question of payment. Landover South Africa has assured Struan that they would pay Landover Mozambique.
Landover Mozambique said “Not a damn – they take too long to pay.” They wanted payment now! All R7800 of it. Struan had to go to a bank and after a flurry of telephone calls between his bank in SA and the local bank funds were transferred and the Landover agents paid.

The Landrover is still not right, but with a box of fuses, Struan at least knows what to do to get it going. He is not a happy chappy.

That evening we had a great fish braai with the 15 kg Barracuda that the boys had caught that day.



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